The Macaroni Penguin is a crested penguin similar to the Rockhopper. Like the Rockhopper it is migratory arriving in the Islands each summer to breed. It is near the northern limit of its range in the Falkland Islands where it is the rarest of the breeding penguins. Very small numbers (24 pairs) at 12 different sites are found in association with Rockhoppers. Macaroni and Rockhopper hybrids are known to occur. The number of breeding sites has declined in recent years. Their main colonies are further south, principally on South Georgia where their population is in excess of 3 million. It's conservation status is Vulnerable.
Macaronis are small penguins, 69 cm (27 ins), very similar to the Rockhopper, but slightly larger and with distinctive golden orange head plumes which spread out and back from the forehead. It has a prominent pink patch at the gape. Head, throat and back are blue-black and under parts white. The very stout bill is orange-red and feet pink.
Macaronis nest with Rockhopper penguins on cliff tops or steep cliff sides. Two white eggs are laid in mid-November.
Immature and non-breeding birds moult from mid-January, breeding adults a little later. The birds have departed by the end of April.Macaroni penguins feed mostly on lobster krill and squid, and less frequently on small fish.
Photos: Allan White